Tag Archives: following

The Heart of a Disciple: “It Is Well”

I was eight when my dad died.

He was forty-three years old.

I regret that I never really knew him.

He was a pastor.

I have memories, vague, but, oh, how I long to converse with him on how he thought, how he lived for Jesus.

On his tomb stone are inscribed these words from Paul, Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

As an 8-9-10-and up year old, I think I knew what that meant. I don’t remember anyone taking me aside and telling me.

As I father three boys, I learn more of my earthly father.

As I follow Jesus, I learn more of my earthly Father who is with my Heavenly Father.

I learn more of the meaning of those words.

For, one does not choose those words of Paul lightly. One certainly does not choose them for their tombstone, without understanding.

These words come to mind, “what ever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

To live, is to follow Jesus. There are lots of other wide roads; none that lead to really living. None that can inspire us to say it is well with our soul, whatever the lot.

This helps me understand more fully what Paul was saying. What ever his lot, whether living, or dying, it was well with his soul.

To live, is to know Jesus in my failures, in my triumphs, in my sadness, in my joy, in my laughter, in my tears, in the easy times, in my difficulties. Jesus has something to say about each. Jesus is there with me in each. With Jesus, it is well.

The world defines “well” as “easy and comfortable.” That is not what what following Jesus is about.

To live is to journey with Jesus and others, so that, in our living, Jesus is made known to us. Collectively, with our brothers and sisters we can say it is well.

In our dying, a new journey begins. 1 Corinthians 13:12 “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

When I die, there will be no more doubt, no more questions. No more striving to follow, no more painful mistakes along the journey. It will be well, for my soul will be with Jesus.

The journey will take on a new characteristic. Instead of following in my Rabbi’s footsteps, I will be able to walk side by side with my Rabbi, my Jesus.

I anticipate the current journey as I follow Jesus. I long for the new journey with Jesus.

It will be well. It will be gain.

In It, Not Of It – Living Out Our Discipleship

There have been tons of head lines about the Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage.
Most headlines are designed to grab attention, to get you to click on a link.
The majority of what is written is designed to divide and polarize.
I’ve clicked on a few links, and read a lot of headlines, the preponderance of which lead me to believe that most have an agenda, and few to none have a realistic view of both sides of the debate.
So I will jump into the fray and add one more headline, but mine is on behalf of my Jesus.

A popular contemporary Christian group from a number of years ago was a group by the name of Avalon. One of their songs always stuck with me. It was like the Spirit of God grabbed my head and heart and said, “Listen to this!” The song is entitled, “In not of.” Here are some of the lyrics:
“Come take the Light to darker parts,
Share His truth with hardened hearts,
We are not like the world, but we can love it.
Come bring the hope to hopeless men,
Until the lost are found in Him,
He came to save the world so let us be. . ., In it, not of it.”

Now I am not inferring from this song that people of the conservative nature of Christianity are the “Light” and the rest are the “darker parts.” Hang with me here… at the core of the Gospel of Jesus is the central truth that our world is broken and Jesus is the answer to that brokenness. If you want to argue the “brokenness” of our world, as in our world is not broken, my friend you have been living in a bubble.
Given this “core” nature of the Gospel, many Christians find themselves aligning themselves into “like” camps of people who think, act, and believe like they themselves do. But from where I sit, that is akin to lighting a lamp and hiding it under a basket.

To these folks, seeking refuge in the ‘like” camps, I have this challenge. Many say your “like” camps are about preserving the truth, remaining true to the faith, but I ask is it really about the truth, or just about comfort? Far too many people from this camp-simply want to avoid the potential of conflict that their differing opinion can cause, so they hide out with like minded people, so they don’t have to enter the struggle. They do not build deep, abiding, Jesus style relationships with anyone who does not already think/act/believe like their pseudo classic exemplar of Jesus.

I would like to distinguish between this archetypal “Christian” and a Jesus follower. Jesus followers, like the song by Avalon points out, realize as they are in the Word, that they do not have the option of veiling their lives from the world; for Jesus came to save the world [if this is a problem, one might want to check out John 3:16-17.]

“What if, rather than introducing others to Jesus, we built a relationship with them and allowed them to meet Jesus in us. The challenge of course is that we have to have a relationship with Jesus that shows we know Jesus and follow Jesus.”

Another Jesus follower, Erwin McManus writes this: “From the moment we become citizens of the kingdom of God, we become aliens and strangers in a world that chooses to live absent of God. From the first step taken to follow Jesus, we are out of step with the rest of the world. Once your life is in sync with the story of God, you become out of sync with any story that attempts to ignore or eliminate God. You are a stranger to them, an alien among them, a nomadic wanderer who, while refusing to be rooted in this life, seems to some-how enjoy this life most.” That is what a Jesus follower does. We are in the world but not of it.

Jesus followers know death does not have the final say. We live not tied to a material world, because we know that what we have is not add value to who we are. We know we are loved beyond compare despite what others say. We are chosen, instead of being marginalized. We are friends in on what our Lord is up to. We are children of the most High King.

A Jesus follower loves our King and loves the world which is deeply loved by our King, so much so that He was willing to fight for it, by laying down His life. Why are so many people worried about defining what we are agains? Jesus followers live by the stamp of grace upon our lives by which we are marked. Jesus followers build relationships with people who as McManus says, attempt to “ignore” God. Why? Because they matter to our King, and we are willing to fight for what matters to our king, despite how it messes with our comfort level.

I love McManus’ last line, “…refusing to be rooted in this life, [Jesus followers] seem to some-how enjoy this life most.”

In our effort to be covered in the dust of our Rabbi, Jesus, strive to be in the “fight” of this world, but fight not for doctrine, dogma, position, rightness, but for the hearts and minds of people, for whom the heart of our God, beats. Build some relationships holding on to our Jesus, who held on to God, and fought after and died for what the Heavenly King loves.